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Ukraine recognizes the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria as “temporarily occupied by Russia”

On October 18, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada recognized the independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and called it a “territory temporarily occupied by Russia” as the result of an armed aggression committed in violation of the UN Charter. 287 MPs supported the resolution.

The document condemns the genocide against the Chechen people and recognizes the sovereignty of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Verkhovna Rada MP Oleksiy Honcharenko said that as the chairman of the interfactional association “For a Free Caucasus,” he considers this an extremely important decision:

“Putin has been trying to enslave the Chechen people for a very long time, he put his Gauleiter Kadyrov in charge, and he is now forcing the Chechens to fight against the Ukrainians. This is a typical Russian imperialist policy with regard to other nations.”

The MP said that Russia must be decolonized, and Ichkeria must be free. Honcharenko says he submitted a resolution to recognize Ichkeria's independence to the Rada: “We have to take this step and put a final end to Russia's imperialist policy.”

In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the indigenous peoples of Russia in Russian. He said that Dagestanis, Chechens, Ingush, Ossetians, Circassians and other peoples who have found themselves under the Russian flag should not die in Russia's “vile and shameful war.” He recorded a video message to the peoples of the Caucasus from a part of Kyiv where Imam Shamil, national hero of Dagestan and Chechnya and leader of the North Caucasus national liberation resistance, lived in the 1860s. The video showed a plaque with a bas-relief of Shamil and his quote proclaiming the invincibility of truth. Zelensky stressed that Ukraine “knows how to honor heroes.”

In January 2022, the publication Kavkaz. Realii reported on raids in Chechnya aiming to identify wolf images on young people’s clothing and personal belongings. The wolf silhouette was the emblem of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, and was notably present on its flag. However, there were no legal grounds for the confiscation of the clothing items, as Ichkeria and its symbols are not banned by Russian law. Only the “Congress of Ichkerian and Dagestani Peoples,” an Islamist separatist organization founded in 1998 by Shamil Basayev and Movladi Udugov, is officially recognized as terrorist and banned in Russia.

The self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (CRI) existed on part of the former Chechen-Ingush ASSR (now Chechnya and Ingushetia) from the collapse of the Soviet Union until January 14, 1994 . The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria declared its independence from the USSR in July 1991. Its first president was Dzhokhar Dudayev, head of the Executive Committee of the All-National Congress of the Chechen People (OKChN). Russian authorities viewed CRI-controlled territory as the Chechen Republic within the Russian Federation since January 9, 1993. Ichkeria was not recognized by any UN member state. The declaration of the CRI’s independence triggered a military conflict, followed by the First Chechen War between the Russian government and the breakaway Chechen formations. The Russian army tried to return Ichkeria to Russia by force, eventually withdrawing its troops from Chechnya in 1996. In 2000, during the Second Chechen War, Ichkeria was abolished as a state and became a republic within Russia.

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